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The Wall - Indian Edition

I’ve come to the conclusion that there cannot be reconciliation with Pakistan as long as the Pakistan army is in control. You can’t beat them into submission or dismember them any further, a la 1971.

Pakistan is also unlikely to go to war with us. Nuclear Armed neighbours, MAD etc. It suits Pakistan to fight a low intensity war of attrition in Kashmir and other places if it can foment trouble. It’ll always be under the threshold of conflict

Pakistan’s strategic planners have done a fairly good job in setting and achieving their objectives

What are the solutions?

Foment trouble in different regions in Pakistan by large scale arms supply to secessionists and trouble makers of all hue. This includes small arms, hand held anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles. This will, with a little luck, balkanise Pakistan. Giving Pakistan army to worry about something else than India. This may be happening on a small scale in a somewhat half hearted way. No reason, this can’t be stepped up to a m…
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Draft Response to TRAI in support of differential pricing for Data services

This is a draft response to TRAI on their consultation paper on Differential Pricing for Data Services. Please feel free to comment, suggest improvements and most importantly use in part or in whole to send in your comments in support of Differential Pricing for Data Services. (Structure borrowed from the STI campaign)
Emails should be sent to advisorfea1@trai.gov.in
Dear Sir,

Thank you for this Consultation Paper on Differential Pricing for Data Services; The TRAI should bring in rules that foster innovation not just in the Internet services Domain, but also in the domain of Internet access. This will invariably mean to allow a free hand to TSPs to innovate in distribution and pricing. This would include differential pricing - especially the practice of “Zero Rating” and other such innovations.
I hope the TRAI considers my answers.
Thanking you
My answers: Question 1: Should the TSPs be allowed to have differential pricing for data usage for accessing different websites, applications or pla…

Why opposition to Free Basics is flawed

If purists are so offended by a limited offering, just don’t call ‘Free Basics’ the Internet A lot has been said about Free Basics, the free limited internet program by Facebook and its telecom partners. Mostly by people opposing it. Facebook is spending (reportedly) Rs 100 crore and using its own properties to make it a success. It is ironical that people who claim to be avowedly pro-market are the loudest opponents of Free Basics. So much so, there is hardly a major voice that stands for it. Supporting it, is almost like supporting bigotry, and invites accusations of shilling for Facebook.  In the spirit of Laissez-faire, it is my contention that Free Basics should continue. Whether it succeeds or fails is something that the market should decide. Let us analyse the main arguments that we have heard against Free Basics and why we should have a different view on them. Who pays for it? Since FB doesn’t pay Telcos for bandwidth. Telcos make too much money from us and are giving away bandwi…

The clash of the new age sellers vs traditional sellers

In the book “Clash of Civilisations and the remaking of the world order” Samuel P Huntington wrote:

“The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion […] but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do.”

The Indian retail space is rallying for a similar clash. Except instead of organised violence, it is the superiority in applying venture capital from abroad.

If not already evident from the numerous court cases, administrative and legislative actions in the taxi space. Similar clashes have happened in the mobile retailing space where a mobile phone giant had to stop official sales to online stores because the general trade boycotted them. Today’s chemist strike is but another lesson.

What are Chemists striking against? The arrival of online medicine stores. These stores like all such businesses before it seek to move the sale of medicines away from your corner shop into the digita…

Why Net Neutrality is good propaganda...

...and that's about it.

Before I start...

I am a big proponent of Net Neutrality. The reasons are numerous. My favourite is the example of Telecom companies destroyed the mobile VAS business. The case for it has been made many times over and is summarised by Ankur'spiece in the Business Standard.

What is of course amusing is that one set of people who essentially profess to be capitalists are taking up what is essentially a socialist cause.

That said, Samir Jain (of BCCL fame) once introduced me to the concept of "अनेकान्तवाद", ie no single view is the complete truth and from there the ability to hold multiple conflicting points of view in one's head. Also, a person of intellect, like a lawyer, should be able to argue both sides of a case.

The above, put together with the pitiable state of defence of their case by Telcos, inspired me to put a cogent alternate point of  view.

With the preamble out of the way, here's my argument:

Net Neutrality is good propaga…

The Return of the Mobile browser

We all love to make predictions and I made one to @shachinb and Steffen Harting when I met them in early 2014. 
Which was: Apps are  temporary phase (of indeterminate length), eventually most apps will switch back into the web browser. Only games and apps that require continuous access to phone sensors such as accelerometer,  GPS etc will remain as apps. For most other purposes a well designed mobile website is going to do a world of good.
So, when Forbes declared that  the mobile browser is dead and the mobile app is the new new thing, I retested my earlier hypothesis and came to the same conclusion. I.e. We are hung up on apps way more than required
Due to this hang up, we are sacrificing the mobile web experience. It pleased me no end to see an old friend @jassim make this comment Super impressed with the Twitter mobile web experience, replaces the app for me This just goes to show it is possible to achieve what I stated as a hypothesis above. One look at the NDTV mobile websit…

Spot-Fixing: An evolution of the Gentleman's game.

A lot (ok, some) of you would have heard about the spotfixing scandal that has broken out and with every passing day an even bigger (sleazier?) story comes out to keep the momentum going. Sick of it? Sick of the corruption that afflicts Indian society? Fear not I have two bits to talk about that will restore your spirits.

The first is actually a rewind to incidents, not here in India, but in the USA. Sports and gambling related indiscretions are part and parcel of their history. Some came out in the press and created news like IPL6 is and others were brushed under the carpet.

The second is a slightly different take on the current series of events. Betting and fixing scandals have been around since... well... let's say a long time. When cricket was played not as often as now and national pride was at stake. Fixing was a no no no.

But the game evolved to give us IPL and manufactured loyalty (purportedly basis where the team is located). Consider the following: Since, there are no…